Who would’ve thought that Kansas would be exciting? Definitely not me. Another 1.5-mile oval? Yawn.
Yet, after the Nationwide race, it is apparent that this repave has turned Kansas into a track that was perfect for great racing.
Breaking the record for most cautions at the speedway, the 12th caution set the field up for a green-white-checkered finish. Fuel mileage was causing cars to run dry during the caution laps, such as Sam Hornish Jr. and Kenny Wallace.
Crew chiefs grew nervous, making their guys recount laps and figure how many laps they were in the good . . . Or in the red.
One person who didn’t have to worry about fuel was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The driver had previously went two laps down when he overdrove his car and went into Joey Logano. Logano wasn’t happy, but Ricky had to pit multiple times to fix damage. While he rode around behind lead lap cars, the #6 team began to plan out their own strategy.
With three to go, Stenhouse was behind Kyle Busch and Paul Menard. As the green flag waved, Menard ran out of gas, and Ricky jumped at the chance to sniff the lead. He raced down Busch until the white flag.
The #54 began to wiggle. The announcers said he was checking to see if he had fuel. Between turns three and four, Kyle’s machine was officially empty, and the #6 charged to first place.
On the cool down lap, Logano smacked Stenhouse’s car and sent him around with a, quote, “Good Job Tap.” Hey, whatever the intention was, Ricky still had a smile on his face.
This is the sixth win for Stenhouse this season, putting him only six points out of the championship lead. Points leader Elliott Sadler finished fourth after an up and down day. The third contender in this battle, Austin Dillon, pulled out a second-place finish.
Another notable instance? Danica Patrick grew a pair and raced her butt off. Her sudden confidence made her go 3-wide with Sadler and youngster Ryan Blaney. On the second-to-last restart, she did the same thing again for a chance at the lead. She fell back and finished tenth. What she showed today was very impressive. If she keeps it up, who knows what could happen?
What did we learn from the Nationwide race at Kansas? That tomorrow’s Cup race should be epic.
Points after Kansas:
Elliott Sadler (–)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-6)
Austin Dillon (-26)
Sam Hornish Jr. (-98)
Michael Annett (-150)